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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Kim Chi-ha's "Road to Seoul", translation

In the final lecture of my course, I used Kim Chi-ha's famous poem "Road to Seoul" from the 1970 collection Hwangt'o (Yellow earth) to illustrate how the rural migration, urbanization and societal change in general were represented at the time.


울지 마라 간다
흰 고개 검은 고개 목마른 고개 넘어
팍팍한 서울길
몸팔러 간다
Kim Chi-ha: Tie Souliin

älkää itkekö, menen
yli valkoisen, mustan, janoisen solan
raskasta tietä Souliin
itseäni myymään
언제야 돌아오리란
언제야 웃음으로 돌아오리란
댕기풀 안스러운 약속도 없이
울지 마라 간다
모질고 모진 세상에 살아도
분꽃이 잊힐까 밀 냄새가 잊힐까
사뭇사뭇 못 잊을 것을
꿈꾸다 눈물 젖어 돌아올 것을
Lupaustakaan antamatta
siitä palaanko joskus
palaanko joskus nauraen
älkää itkekö, menen
Vaikka maailma olisi kuinka julma
unohdanko kukat, vehnän tuoksun
koskaan ei unohdu
unista kyyneltyneenä, paluu
울지 마라 간다
하늘도 시름겨운 목마른 고개 넘어
팍팍한 서울길

몸팔러 간다
älkää itkekö, menen
yli taivaankin murehtiman janoisen solan
raskasta tietä Souliin

itseäni myymään

This is a difficult poem, and for some lines I just had to cut corners, especially 댕기풀 안스러운 약속도 없이. But otherwise, it looks nice and should convey what Kim meant it to. Kim Chi-ha has been translated to English, "The Road to Seoul" included. I can't find the whole translation of that poem online, but from the excerpts I gather that line repeated twice, 몸팔러 간다, has been rendered as I'm going to sell my body. Maybe I'm partial, but doesn't the Finnish itseäni myymään sound much more true to the original?

Other translations in this blog:
처음처럼 / 용혜원 Kuin ensi kertaa / Yong Hye-won
• 山中問答 in the post Hunjang in the mountains, via Korean-language translation
Yom Sang-jin in Finnish (from Taebaek sanmaek)

Categories at del.icio.us/hunjang:

Comments to note "Kim Chi-ha's "Road to Seoul", translation" (Comments to posts older than 14 days are moderated)

<Anonymous Tim> said on 30.5.07 : 

"Sell my body," of course, connotes prostitution. ("Sell myself" would, too).

But from my reading, "Road To Seoul" focuses more on women suffering in sweatshop labor (e.g., Pyonghwa Market). So, if we *must* preserve the verb, "sell," then better English phrases might be "sell my sweat" or "sell my labor."

Very interesting question.

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